Inside Westminster

Red Wall Tories are nervous – which means trouble for Boris Johnson

The PM’s boosterism and optimism has encouraged people to think they can have it all – but his list of broken promises is becoming a dangerous narrative, writes Andrew Grice

Friday 19 November 2021 16:54
<p>Boris Johnson’s ‘levelling up’ agenda is at risk </p>

Boris Johnson’s ‘levelling up’ agenda is at risk

Boris Johnson hoped that cracking down on MPs’ second jobs would win round the disgruntled Tory MPs in the north alienated by his woeful handling of the Owen Paterson situation. But he was sorely disappointed.

Johnson is losing friends in the north for several reasons. “The sleaze allegations are doing real damage,” one “red wall” Tory MP told me, adding: “‘One rule for us and another for everyone else’ has cut through.” These MPs are right to worry; Johnson’s appeal to former Labour voters was that he was “not a typical Tory”, as many described him. But the unlikely crusader against the establishment now looks like he has joined it.

Diluting his repeated promises on the northern part of HS2 and northern powerhouse rail was never going to “land well”, as the spin doctors put it.

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